Birthday: May 6, 1916
Died At Age: 80
Sun Sign: Taurus
Born in: Bridgeport, Connecticut
Famous as: Voice Actor
Spouse/Ex-: Dana Costigan (m. 1972–1982), Norval Mitchell (m. 1952–1972)
father: Guido Caselotti
mother: Maria Orefice
siblings: Louise Caselotti
Died on: January 18, 1997
place of death: Los Angeles
Cause of Death: Cancer
U.S. State: Connecticut
Adriana Caselotti was an American singer and a voice actor who was popularly known for voicing the character of Snow White in the 1937 American animated musical fantasy film ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ from the Walt Disney Company. She was later inducted into the Hall of Fame of The Walt Disney Company, making her the first ever female voice actor to be named so. Over the course of her career, she also tried opera singing as well as recorded tracks from Snow White when the ‘Snow White Grotto’ was refurbished at Disneyland. Walt Disney never wanted to spoil the illusion of Snow White and thus wanted to keep the voice of Adriana exclusive to the character, hence he never let her work in any other films, not even for his own productions. Coming to her personal life, she had been married four times and was divorced at the time of her death in 1997.
In the 1930s, Walt Disney was looking for a voice artist for his first feature ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. After hearing one or two candidates, he came to know about Adriana from her father and was totally convinced that she was the one he was looking for. She went on to voice the title character Snow White and was paid an amount of $970 for her services, an amount that would be equivalent to around $16,000 in today’s date. The film became a major hit.
Adriana Caselotti was under contract and Walt Disney owned her voice in legal terms. The contract prevented her from working in any other productions, be it films, television shows, or any kind of commercial/non-commercial public shows. She was not even allowed to work in any of Disney’s future movies as Walt Disney wanted to keep her voice exclusive to the character of Snow White. The contract became catastrophic for her as it literally ended her career before it could even flourish. While Disney enjoyed the profits from the Snow White franchise, Caselotti suffered immensely because of the restrictive nature of the contract.
Apart from ‘Snow White,’ Adriana worked in only one film, MGM's ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in 1939 in which she was not credited. She also sang the song ‘If I Only Had a Heart.’
Later in 1946, she had an uncredited role in ‘It's a Wonderful Life’. In 1972, she appeared in an episode of ‘The Julie Andrews Hour’ and later made a guest appearance in ‘The Mike Douglas Show’.
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Premature End of Career
‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ was the only credited work in Adriana Caselotti’s career. While it brought her widespread fame, it also effectively ended her career even before it began. She was made to sign a highly restrictive contact with Walt Disney prior to the release of the film which prohibited her from working in any other film or television production. She was not even allowed to appear on radio.
Awards & Achievements
In 1994, Adriana Caselotti was inducted into the hall of fame of the Disney Universe, making her the first ever female voice artist to be named in the prestigious list.
Adriana Caselotti was born on May 6, 1916, in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Her parents were of Italian descent. Her father Guido Caselotti was a music teacher and a vocal trainer by profession while her mother Maria Orefice, who was originally from Naples, was a singer in the Royal Opera Theatre of Rome.
She had an elder sister who was also an opera singer and gave voice lessons, like their father, to several artists including Maria Callas. The family moved from Connecticut to Italy when Adriana was seven. During the three years in Italy, she studied in an Italian convent and upon returning to the United States, she started taking English lessons and voice training under her father.
Adriana Caselotti was married four times. Her first marriage was in 1945 with Robert Chard, a theater ticket broker. Following their divorce, she got married to her second husband, actor Norval Mitchell in 1952. After the death of Norval in 1972, Adriana got married to a podiatrist, Dr. Joseph Dana Costigan, who died in 1982. Her last marriage was to retired postal employee Florian St. Pierre in 1989, which ended in a divorce.
She died from lung cancer at her home in Los Angeles on January 18, 1997. She was cremated according to her wish and her remains were scattered at Newport Beach, California.